There are still multiple game-changing free agents on the open market. Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Craig Kimbrell lead that pack. However, the Cardinals front office is content with the look of the current roster as they head into Spring Training.
“I would say that we always keep an eye out, but I don’t anticipate anything at this point,” Mozeliak said. “I think for us, we are pretty confident in what we have.” This comes on the heels of another very slow offseason across the MLB.
The Redbirds were actually one of the busier teams this winter, acquiring both Andrew Miller and Paul Goldschmidt, but they’ve done little since. Those two acquisitions certainly made the Cards a better team and put them back in contention for a playoff spot, but they very well could land back in third place in the division again.
That’s what makes the Cardinals stance on the remaining free agents a bit off-putting. Currently, they are going with a guy who batted .180 last season over Bryce Harper in right field. They’re also sticking with Paul DeJong over perennial All-Star and MVP candidate Manny Machado at short and are favoring young inexperienced bullpen arms over Craig Kimbrel.
There’s been no evidence that those three players would be opposed to coming to St. Louis. Any of the three of them, especially one of the former two, would make the Cards the favorites in the Central. Unfortunately, the Redbirds front office isn’t looking to spend that kind of money. In fact, as of right now, they’re Opening Day payroll is set to be less than it was on the final day of the 2018 season.
Mozeliak has his reasons for avoiding any more signings this offseason. Most of them stem from getting burnt with a late contract last year. Mo took a chance and signed Greg Holland on Opening Day, after he missed all of Spring Training, and it didn’t bode well for him.
On August 1, after 32 games in which he posted a 7.92 ERA and 2.24 WHIP, the Cards released Holland from the team. Of that situation, Mozeliak said, “I do think we learned our lesson. I think it does put a reason why Spring Training matters.”
Hopefully, these reservations don’t come back to bite the Cardinals. If they miss the playoffs though, they could face some scrutiny for not pursuing these players, late in the offseason or otherwise.
Dexter Fowler will be entering this Spring Training with new confidence that stems from conversations with Barry Bonds. The two frequently discussed Fowler’s swing throughout the offseason, however, one time in early January stands out to Dexter.
He had sent a video of his swing to Bonds, to which the former MVP replied, “that’s perfect.” Fowler said, “he hadn’t said it like that before. Right now, he said, that’s right where you need to be.”
Hopefully for the Cardinals Fowler’s new swing will get him back on track this season. After an abysmal 2018, they need a solid year from him.
Chris Carpenter has been spending some time with the team in Jupiter at their Spring Training facility. Though he hadn’t had a previously defined role, Mike Shildt says they’ve settled on his title: Special Assistant to Everyone.
Carp plans to spend two separate weeks with the club in Florida. Then, once the regular season gets under way, he will make monthly visits to St. Louis. This is all a part of an attempt to ease the former Cy Young winner into a larger coaching role with the Cards.
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